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San Antonio City Council considers a request to ban horse-drawn carriages

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Katie Haugland Bowen
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San Antonio City Council members have been asked to consider a ban on horse-drawn carriages. City Councilmembers Jalen McKee-Rodriguez and Phylis Viagran submitted a Council Consideration Request last week.

Early this year, a viral video of a fallen carriage horse on the streets of New York City sparked renewed scrutiny on the tourist attraction. The horse, named Ryder, later succumbed to exhaustion and died. New York City Council has since proposed and passed a law to cease the use of horse-drawn carriages. Horses will be replaced with electric carriages by June 2024 in New York City.

Other cities like Chicago have successfully banned the practice completely. Lawmakers in Chicago not only cited concerns for animal welfare but also public safety as horse-drawn carriages often broke traffic laws.

The prohibition of horse-drawn carriages would also mean a loss of income for others. The carriage industry has at least five permitted operators in downtown San Antonio. Advocates of the carriage industry state that equine-led carriages are a downtown draw.

Some cities have decided to keep horse-drawn carriages, as it promotes tourism and helps the small business economy. Carriage operators often point out that the majority of working horses are happy, well-treated and clean.

Three other councilmembers gave their signatures in support of the Council Consideration Request. If the request is accepted and an ordinance is implemented, the practice of horse-drawn carriages will slowly be phased out.

What are the next steps in the CCR request? Are carriage operators involved in this discussion? Is there a middle ground to be found between carriage operators and animal welfare advocates? Would we lose out on history if we ban horse-drawn carriages?

Are there any plans in place for those who would lose their jobs if this ban goes through?

What are the current rules and regulations for permitted equine-drawn carriages? Is this still considered animal cruelty? Are working animals a relic of the past?

Guests: 

  • Jalen McKee-Rodriguez, San Antonio City Council representative for District 2 
  • Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action, senior vice president of Public Policy and Communications at the Center for a Humane Economy
  • Noah Tillman–Young, founder of Steady Horse an educational organization that fosters powerful horse and human relations, and a horse advocate for Lonestar Carriage

"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call833-877-8255, email thesource@tpr.org or tweet@TPRSource.

*This interview was recorded on Monday, December 5.

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